Laos and Vietnam are furthering their cooperation with regard to tackling illegal logging and poaching, which continue to occur along their shared border.
Director General of the Department of Forest Inspection under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Khamphout Phandanouvong, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that the Lao and Vietnamese governments had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on forest protection that encompasses both illegal logging and illicit products made from wild animals.
The MoU will be ratified by Lao and Vietnamese provinces that share a border. The memorandum runs for three years, from 2017 to 2020.
“So far, Huaphan, Borikhamxay, Khammuan and Attapeu provinces have signed the agreement with their respective Vietnamese neighbours to guard against the export of illegally procured timber and animal life,” Mr Khamphout said.
Xekong and Saravan provinces have yet to sign the memorandum.
Laos and Vietnam are still implementing the previous memorandum which was signed in 2012 and ends in 2017.
Mr Khamphout said much progress had been made against illegal operations in the border area since the ratification of the memorandum in 2012.
In the past, the two countries did not directly cooperate with each other on the issue of illegal timber and wildlife exports.
A drop in the export of products illegally sourced from forests resulted from the cooperation of the two countries after the signing of the first memorandum.
Attapeu province in Laos and Kon Tum province in Vientiane signed the second MoU in Vietnam on October 19. The two provinces will cooperate closely on exchanging information and intelligence related to the prevention and elimination of illegal logging and poaching in their border area.
Each party also agreed to intensify strict monitoring of the importand export of timber and wildlife along their border.
The new MoU includes several provisions that improve upon the previous one. A cooperative awareness- raising campaign will be carried out to educate people living in the border area about the importance of protecting natural resources and conserving biodiversity.
The awareness campaign targets these groups because they often either participate in illegal activities or have valuable intelligence concerning perpetrators.
The increased cooperation will also include additional training for military personnel, police and customs officers along the border in addition to direct cooperation on handling cases.
Source: Vientiane Times